Facebook Business Page: So Long Organic Growth. Hello Facebook Ads.

If you own a small business, you need to create a Facebook business page for your business rather than the more familiar Facebook profile. Facebook profiles are for sharing with family and friends whereas Facebook pages are for businesses.

Photo: Pixabay

What is a Facebook Business Page?

A business page will allow you to post information, photos, videos, have discussions, provide logistical information on your business, schedule and promote events, even link to on-line shopping as well as receive analytical information on your page.

No worries if you’ve created a profile instead as you can easily migrate to a business page, though you will lose some information such as metrics on your personal profile which can’t be transferred to your Facebook business page.

Should You Have a Facebook Business Page?

Facebook is the largest social network in the world with more than 2.32 billion users and 1.52 billion people logging on daily. Compared to other platforms, it is head and shoulders above the rest of the pack and definitely worth investigating further.  

Despite the negative press of late, and the fact the younger generation is gravitating to other platforms, Facebook remains a key platform for a small business to engage in. The caveat of course is what your business goals are and who the audience for your product is.  If you make a determination that Facebook is a fit for your business, there are some things to think about.


With the fallout from the Cambridge Analytical data scandal, Facebook implemented some major changes to its algorithm. It is prioritizing conversations (i.e., the social aspect) and that means businesses have little chance that their posts will be found organically by their followers. It means that they will need to pay for Facebook ads to extend their reach.

Are there Alternatives to Facebook Ads?

Before we look at Facebook Ads, are there some ways a business can try to get around Facebook Ads?  These are some suggestions to try:

  1. Opt-in-Ask followers to opt-in to see your posts. By choosing “See First” in their News Feed, your new posts will appear in your followers feeds.  However, the reality is your followers may not do this and there is no guarantee Facebook won’t change this sometime in the future.
  2. Video-Produce more video content. Facebook continues to prioritize video, particularly live-streamed video.  For example, you could host a Q&A session with your followers using Facebook Live. You could record a video of a new product, your employers, customers or suppliers.
  3. Conversation-Because Facebook is focusing on content that promotes conversation and comments, the more a business engages in dialogue with its followers the better. However, Facebook is making a distinction between low and high value conversation. Asking your followers to like, share or comment on changes to your opening hours won’t help you much.

So where does this leave a small business owner trying to garner more business using Facebook? 

While these are options to try, how effective they are going to be is difficult to determine. And, do you want to spend all this effort for something that may not net you results? Remember that Facebook has changed its algorithm to de-prioritize content from business pages. Some refer to it as the end of the gravy train. Businesses must now pay Facebook, with Facebook Ads, to be noticed.

Facebook Ads

Facebook is one of the top advertising channels online. Facebook Ads are easy to create and allow you to target your audience very precisely based on a variety of criteria. You can determine the amount you want to spend for the campaign as a whole or per day. The amount you spend on Facebook Ads is up to you, and comparatively speaking, is a low cost advertising method.  Facebook provides excellent details on the promotions you run.

This article provides examples of how five businesses are using Facebook Ads.

Some Best Practices

Assuming Facebook makes sense for your business, what are some things you should be doing (i.e., best practices) to get the most out of your Facebook business page?

Cover Photo/Video

Your cover photo is prominent real estate on your Facebook page. Make the most of it. Ensure the photo is visually appealing, captures the values, culture and essence of your business. Change it out periodically. Consider including a video in your cover shot.

Cover Photo
Photo: Pixabay

Pinned Post

Another piece of valuable real estate on your Facebook page is the pinned post.  Make it what you want the reader to see whether that is your key mission statement, your customer service ethic, a coming event, news about a new product or store opening, a sale, a business anniversary, a community endeavor, etc. In other words, don’t put something there and never change it. Pay attention to it. Make it work for you.

Facebook Messenger

Use Facebook Messenger to respond to your customers as more and more customers prefer this as a method of communication over a phone call.

Content Publishing Tools

You can use tools with Facebook to publish your content or third-party tools such as Hootsuite. These tools will allow you to load up content and schedule it to be posted automatically. When you are in business, having a number of posts ready in advance and scheduled to be posted automatically will be very welcome.

Facebook Insights

Facebook Insights collects information on who “likes” your page. It is detailed information like age, gender, geographic location, income, interests, etc. Having this information is extremely helpful. When you know who your target audience is, you can gear your posts and your advertising directly to them.

Website Traffic

There are a number of ways that you can send traffic to your website from your Facebook page. You can do this in the About section by inserting your web address. You can also have the Call to Action tabs direct users to your website. And, you can include your web address in all of your posts.

Blog Feed

As you publish your blog posts, consider adding them to your Facebook page. How cool is that?

Photo: Pixabay

Facebook is unparalleled in terms of its use and reach. Because of the data Facebook has, Facebook Ads can be strategically targeted to the audience you want.

Have you tried a Facebook Ad? How successful was it? Do you have any Facebook best practices to share with other small business owners?

Facebook Business Page: So Long Organic Growth. Hello Facebook Ads. #smallbusiness https://bit.ly/2Djz1tZ

Facebook Business Page: So Long Organic Growth. Hello Facebook Ads. https://bit.ly/2Djz1tZ

Small Business Blog to Start a Dialogue: Hotdog!

The Evolution of the Blog

Though very different from current blogs, the very first iteration of the blog began in 1994. It has been 25 years already! The term “blog” wasn’t used until 1999. In the year 2000, 23 blogs existed. The Huffington Post, Gizmodo and other blogs began in 2001 and are still present today.  

Blogs experienced a growth stage around the turn of the century. WordPress, the free platform used by so many present day bloggers had its inception in 2003. In 2004, bloggers could use video and generate revenue by putting ads on their blog sites. By 2006, there were 50 million active blogs. By the end of 2010, that had tripled and there were over 150 million active blogs online.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Microblogs, or tumblogs as they were also known, were established during this time as well. These allowed short posts to be created, add images or video, comments on posts and send blog content to others. Tumblr is one example of a microblog which is still used today with millions of active users.

At one point, blogs were the only source of content and communication for internet users. But with the increase of social media use, social networking emerged as a popular source of information instead.

However, that didn’t stop the blog trend. Blogs remain very, very popular today and every indication is that they will continue to grow and be more popular than ever with approximately 500 million active blogs today.

The Modern Blog

Blogs come in every size and flavour. Some of the most popular blog types are: fashion, food, travel, political, how to, health and fitness, sports, finance, lifestyle, gaming, entertainment, etc. 

Food Blog
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Blogs are written by companies and by individuals. Blogs vary from very large blogs with paid contributors, lots of advertising and earning millions of dollars in revenue to an individual running their own blog with no advertising and earning no revenue. Some individuals earn part-time or full-time incomes from blogging by selling ads on their site, being paid to mention companies or products in their blogs, becoming affiliate marketers receiving a commission on sales of products or services purchased through links on their blog (e.g., Amazon has a very popular affiliate program), selling digital products like e-books or e-newsletters, selling physical products like books, and selling their services as a consultant or as a speaker at an event.

Blogs for a Small Business

Virtually all small businesses now have their own website and usually have one or more social media platforms that they use. So, should a small business incorporate a blog into their website? The answer is a definite yes. There are many good reasons why a small business should invest in writing a blog:

  • To improve website ranking – A blog with useful content on a business’ website will help improve a website’s ranking in search results. How? Google’s algorithms will rank sites with better content higher. Rankings also increase with link backs to the blog spurred on by the great content written.
  • To establish credibility – When potential customers read a business’ content and they can see value from it, they are far more willing to frequent the business.
  • To become known as the face of the business – Rather than buying from a business they know nothing about, people want to know about the individuals that own and run the business. Posting stories about the owner of the business, their employers or suppliers, will help customers get to know those behind the business and will translate into increased traffic for the business.  
  • To increase loyalty – A business has written a great blog with amazing content.  By enabling comments on the blog posts, a business can engage with its customers (or potential ones). This allows the business and the customers to know one another better. This will lead to increased loyalty, allow the business to gain more knowledge about its customers and ultimately to increased revenues.
  • To lead to other opportunities – Once a blog has been established and has a good following and is known for valuable content, it can lead to other opportunities for the business.
Increase Loyalty
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Suggestions for a Small Business Blog

Here are some suggestions to follow for a business blog:

  1. Blog consistently (i.e., decide the amount of time you have to create a blog, determine its frequency, and stick with it).
  2. The blogs should be quality pieces and it should add value to the reader.  Ensure you know what the reader is going to get from reading your blog.
  3. Longer blogs (1,500 to 2,000 words) rank best in search engines, but quantity does not trump quality.
  4. Aim for a minimum of six to a dozen words for the blog title for best search engine results. The title should be enticing to draw the reader in.
  5. Write in an informal way like you are talking to someone.  What you say and how you say it are both important.
  6. Use pictures, video and diagrams.  Nobody wants to read word after word without something to draw the eye to. This will increase the chance the whole article will be read and help in information retention.
  7. Be sure to entertain.  It’s not like being a teacher giving a lecture.
Informal Talking
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Need Some Ideas?

Here are some ideas of what to blog about.

Have you written a blog for a small business? What kind of results did you get? What kind of blogs do you like reading for personal use?

Small Business Blog to Start a Dialogue: Hotdog! #smallbusiness https:www.bit.ly/2K5Fe2o

Small Business Blog to Start a Dialogue: Hotdog! https://www.bit.ly/2K5Fe2o

Instagram Stories: An Awesome Snapchat Alternative and Business Marketing Force

Instagram has become a very popular social media platform.  It is gaining traction against Facebook, which is also its parent company. With all the features it is adding and the negative publicity for Facebook, it may surpass Facebook in terms of users in the not-too-distant future.

Unsuccessful in purchasing Snapchat, but wanting to capture its functionality, Instagram introduced Instagram Stories in August 2016.

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories are visual with the “stories” live for a period of 24 hours and then they disappear. Images and short video comprise the story in a vertical format. Text or doodles can be added over the images. Filters, music and stickers can be added as well as geotags.

Instagram Stories
Photo: Pixabay

The stories appear at the top of a user’s Instagram page not in the tiled photo gallery. A circle around someone’s public picture signifies that there is an active story that they have posted. And, if the Instagram owner wants to keep the story permanently on their page, the story can be posted to their profile page as a highlight. 

Instagram Stories offer the advantage of being featured at the top of a follower’s home feed. Its appearance on a follower’s feed isn’t dependent on a complicated algorithm where how fast your Instagram post gets engagement matters. By using Instagram Stories, they go to the top of the line. By adding a location sticker or a hashtag, even users who don’t follow you, have the ability to see your story.  That’s a big plus.

With Instagram Stories you have the capability to know the number of times your story has been seen and the names of those who have seen it.  If your Instagram account is a business profile, you can also view analytics on your Stories. There are a number of stats that you can access such as reach, impressions, completion rate, etc.

Some Stats

Instagram Stories have grown exponentially in its short history.  Citing accurate data on the number of Instagram Stories users is difficult because of the rapid growth, but it would appear that Instagram Stories has some 400-500 million daily users, which is more than twice the number of Snapchat users for their entire app.  According to an article in recode.net, 31% of Instagram users post a story once a month and 47% of Instagram users watch Instagram Stories at least weekly. Some data suggests that users spend as much time on stories as the main feed.

Who Uses Instagram Stories?

In researching Instagram Stories, I learned that Instagram Stories came into being because users felt intimidated by Instagram. Users felt their photos had to be perfect to post on Instagram. Instagram Stories were created to capture everyday life and not perfection.

It is estimated that for every three Instagram stories, two are posted by individuals and one is posted by a business. Given that Instagram was created more for individuals and individuals outweigh the number of businesses that is not a surprising statistic.

Individuals use Instagram Stories for anything and everything: what they ate for lunch, the party they attended, their fabulous new car, the great apartment they rented, their Christmas gifts, their vegetable garden, their fashion sense, the life-changing trip they went on, the new job they landed, etc.

Businesses use Instagram Stories to promote their products, to give a behind the scenes look at how their business works, to feature a live event, to ask questions, conduct polls or run a contest. They are being used by some big name brands such as National Geographic, J. Crew, the Gap, Airbnb, Lowes, Nordstrom Rack, Converse, Whole Foods, Aldo, and Mercedes Benz, just to name some.

Check out this article to get a good idea of the diversity of ways 22 companies are using Instagram Stories.

Apps to Create Instagram Stories

What is surprising is the reason Instagram Stories was created seems to have been abandoned, at least in part. Why? Look at all the apps that exist and continue to be created to build upon the functionality in Instagram Stories and “take your story to the next level”.  The apps are used to make Instagram Stories eye-catching, to have someone go “Wow”, to ensure the audience engages with the content.  This applies to stories created by individuals and businesses.

There are all kinds of apps available to download to help create the picture-perfect Instagram Story. Most are available on both iPhone and Android, but some are only available for one format. These are just a few, but there are many others:

  • Unfold  – for story templates
  • Canva – for customized story templates to your brand
  • Word Swag – for beautiful fonts
  • Hype-Type –  for animating words
  • Over – for overlaying text and graphics on photos and video
  • InShot – for editing photos and video
  • CutStory – for cropping longer videos into 15 second clips

How Could a Small Business Use Instagram Stories?

Before a small business starts to use Instagram Stories, they need to determine what their goals are in using Instagram Stories. Then they can determine content. For example, some small business owners use Instagram Stories to gain insight into their product from their followers, showcase their employees and their partners, promote their business and have a bit of fun.

Lets look at a few examples of how a smaller business can use Instagram Stories to start a conversation with their followers.

Poll (using Instagram Stories’ Poll Sticker)

A poll is a great way to interact with followers, maybe help a small business make some decisions and increase engagement at the same time. Polls can be used to gain information on existing or new products or it can be just for fun. A poll allows you to ask a question and for your followers to vote.  Essentially the vote is yes or no but you can customize the poll choices on screen to be what you want. Those who vote can see the results on their screen after voting. As the story creator, you can track voting as well but you do have to cull the voting results before the story expires as the voting results will disappear too! 

Ask for Feedback through a Poll
Photo: Pixabay

Questions (using Instagram Stories’ Question Sticker)

This is a feature that can be used by businesses to ask their followers questions or for their followers to ask questions of the business. It is a great way to have engagement with a business’ customer base. Because a business shows that they care enough to ask their customers their opinion and to answer their customer’s questions, it presents the business in a good light and translates into customer loyalty.

Ask Questions of Your Follows or Answer Your Follower’s Questions
Photo: Pixabay

Contests (using Instagram Stories’ Question Sticker)

A business can give away products or services they offer using Instagram Stories. Using the Question sticker in Instagram, they can create a 24 hour contest. A sense of urgency and fun is created when an Instagram Story is used, because it only exists for 24 hours. A photo of the prize in an Instagram Story, and asking users to reply to the story with their e-mail address to enter is simple. The business owner then needs to select the winner and announce it.

Businesses also have the option to run a contest on their main profile but use Instagram Stories to promote it. Because of the algorithm used by Instagram, many of a business’ followers might not see a post announcing a giveaway in their feeds. But Stories push to the top of their feeds. The Story could tell a business’ followers about the contest and how to enter. The business can also use hashtags like “#contest” to extend the Story’s reach.

How Often and When Should a Small Business Owner Post an Instagram Story?

In term of how often a small business owner posts an Instagram Story that is something he/she has to determine as part of the business’ overall social media strategy as well as everything else that needs to be done to keep the business a success. Maybe you do one or two stories a week.

Because Instagram Stories live for 24 hours, a business owner doesn’t need to be concerned about when the post occurs, but it wouldn’t hurt to post when the business’ audience is normally most active on social media or if the business is looking for immediate engagement on a topic.

Do you use Instagram Stories as an Individual or as a Business?  What kinds of Stories do you post? Do you combine your Stories into Highlights?

#instagramstories: An Awesome Snapchat Alternative and Business Marketing Force #socialmediamarketing #socialmediaforbusiness https://bit.ly/2HRbDH8

Instagram Stories: An Awesome Snapchat Alternative and Business Marketing Force https://bit.ly/2HRbDH8

You’re a New Small Business Owner and a Social Media Neophyte: You’ll be Fine.

Starting and growing a thriving business commands attention in so many different directions. Social media is just one piece of the puzzle a small business owner must fit together with all the other pieces to run a successful business. Overlooked, it could hurt a small business.

If you are a social media neophyte to boot, the commitment to post content to social media as a new small business owner can be daunting.  What platforms should I use? What content should I post?  How often should I post? How much time should I be spending on engagement? Never mind, that you’re scratching your head that the “pound” symbol on the phone is now called a hashtag and that ‘”tagging” isn’t the same thing you did as a store clerk when you were in your teens. At least a “handle” is still a nickname but the older association of it being truckers using CB radios is no longer top of mind.

So, if you’re part of the older generation that did not grow up with social media, nor adopt it later in life, and who is hoping to run your own small business, maybe a quaint coffee house in a small tourist town, I thought I’d put myself in your shoes today to provide some suggestions to introduce social media into your business. The key is to start small, experiment and go from there.

Customers in Coffee Shop
Coffee Shop

Some Facts

When it comes to social media, Facebook has the largest number of users. Twitter and Instagram are well known platforms and while Twitter has been around longer, Instagram has more users. Unless you have money set aside to pay someone to create content and manage your social media accounts, carrying out this yourself for the three most well-known social media platforms will consume too much of your time initially that you need to spend elsewhere.

But, social marketing increases your exposure, so you can’t ignore it. You will need to choose one or two platforms to start with. Start with the platform that is used most by the customer base for your coffee shop.

If you want to target a younger clientele, six out of ten Instagram users are 18-29, so it would be good choice. The biggest category of Twitter users is the 25 to 24 age group and the 35 to 44 age group, but Twitter users also represent a much smaller overall user group than Facebook or Instagram.

Facebook’s biggest users are the older demographic with the 65+ group growing.  Facebook isn’t being used as much by the younger generation anymore, with teens preferring Instagram and Snapchat. Younger users do use Facebook Messenger for talking (audio and video) and texting but not so much the other features of Facebook. Will they start to use Facebook when they are older?  

If you’re looking to attract both locals in town and tourists of all age groups, but primarily those in their twenties, thirties and forties, I would jump on the Instagram bandwagon as it is a newer platform, one that is growing and is most popular with the 18 to 29 group. After you have experimented with Instagram for a year, you can then decide whether or not to add another platform once you’ve assessed how you are doing with Instagram.  

Man holding white cell phone with Instagram application on screen

Visual Appeal and Engagement

Because you’re using Instagram, you will need pictures or videos, and this is true regardless of platform, as using pictures and video is essential to create visually appealing content. More than this, you need to create content that your customer base can relate to, that entertains them, that asks them questions or asks them their opinions, so interaction or engagement occurs. And, you will need to set aside time every day to respond to comments or complaints by those that follow you on Instagram.

Calendar of Social Media Content

Setting out a calendar of social media content to publish is a good idea.  Why?  You need to communicate regularly with your audience in social media.  It doesn’t do much good to have an Instagram account and use it once every week or two.  You need to communicate daily. Minimum of one-a-day, like the vitamins! If you had other social accounts, you would need to communicate on those too, and the old “copy and paste” the same thing from one platform to the next isn’t terribly original.

Mac Book with Calendar on Screen
Social Media Calendar Planning

Back to your Instagram account. Posting at least one item per day to your Instagram account means 365 postings in a year. How are you going to come up with 365 things to communicate with your audience? You can schedule posts in advance using a variety of tools on the market such as Hootsuite, but you need ideas for content and you need to create it.


You could start by populating the calendar with holidays, celebration days and local events in town. You could wish your customers the best of the holidays, safe travels on their holidays and ask them about their plans. On celebration days like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Earth Day, or Halloween, you could have special promotions to encourage people to drop in and talk about their plans on those days on social media. For local events or attractions in town, you could create awareness and help promote attendance and have followers discuss their plans to visit.

That still leaves a lot of gaps in the calendar. So what else can you post about?

Features of regular customers or out of towners, employees, suppliers, and other local businesses are good ways to get engagement. Promoting charitable organizations or causes you feel strongly about are worthwhile postings.

You could choose a day of the week (like Mondays) for special offerings and promote it on social media every week. A Question of the Week about coffee, local history, current events in town can spark engagement.  Posting about new products is always a good enticement on social media. Days throughout the year can be designated as customer appreciation days.

Just like searching for a conversation starter with a stranger, there is always the weather to discuss. A post of a picture of the coffee house storefront in the sunshine with the doors wide-open with customers inside enjoying coffee and conversation or on the patio out back would generate comments.

Lastly, on the days when you are just scratching your head for things to post, you could provide inspirational quotes or a simple thank you to customers.

The Moral of the Story?

Don’t be afraid. Do some reading and grab the bull by the horn and try one social media platform that you think makes sense. You are a business owner after all, you can figure this out! Yes, you’ll make some mistakes, but that is part of the process and will make you better in the long-run. Get help with social media if you really feel you need it, but learn it, and master it so you can do it yourself. You’ll be an old hand at it before you know it and have the flexibility to do it on your own. It is the unknown, but it’s not as scary as you think.

Do you have other ideas to engage with customers in this line of business on social media?

Facebook: You’re a New Small Business Owner and a Social Media Neophyte: You’ll be Fine. https://bit.ly/2F5MQgl

Twitter: You’re a New Small Business Owner and a Social Media Neophyte: You’ll be Fine. #SocialMedia https://bit.ly/2F5MQgl